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Roofless - Turbo-Charged Cabriolet

Paul and Linda's CabriosMost of you readers enjoy the sensation of a modified engine under your right foot. But have you ever tried it in a convertible? Wind in the hair (if the Editor had any), and all that -- is the ultimate method of transportation on a hot' n' sticky summer's day.

We'll set the scene. The sun's out, ya hood's down and you've got your Ray-Bans on. You feel as though you could take on the world -- and the owners of both these Escort cabriolets can!

Uprated with turbocharged engines, few convertibles, and come to that tin-tops, could match the performance of these cars. But, despite using similar base cars and turbo conversions, the owners have firmly stamped their individuality on these cabriolets, choosing totally different concepts. Low, lean and lairy, Paul Renaut's zebra striped example is brutal but brash, while Linda Fisher prefers the silent sleeper approach, her escort surprising unsuspecting males with egos larger than their power outputs.

Linda Fisher

Linda's CabrioLinda adopted a more subtle approach to tuning. You won't find any stripes on her Escort, let alone a Turbo badge. The only visual differences between this cabriolet and a stock XR3i version are the seven spoke RS1600i wheels and some subtle Ford proprietary bodykit parts - a Mk5 boot lid spoiler and Ford Motorsport arches and skirts. The front gains an Orion grille and Ford fog and spot lights, all painted black, in keeping with the sleeper theme.

Under the bonnet, is a turbo'ed version of the original CVH engine. This conversion was conducted by a chap called Gerry Speechley, who long time readers will remember as the man behind the awesome turbo, nitrous, V6 Texaco XR4i Sierra, featured in September '91's Fast Car. Linda's engineHe fitted a Turbo Technics conversion to what's basically a stock XR3i bottom end, although RS Turbo conrods and pistons were used to lower the compression and increase strength. The compressor is a water cooled Garrett T2 unit on an RS Turbo manifold, with a Channel tunnel style, Piper 4” exhaust system. The fuelling is modified to suit, while a Turbo Technics boost retard capsule handles the ignition requirements.

Chassis wise Gerry ensured the cabriolet was capable of accepting the additional power, fitting XR4i calipers at the front and Mk4 RS Turbo drums at the rear. Ford Motorsport components are also employed on the suspension with adjustable dampers and uprated springs, whilst a MK3 Turbo anti-roll bar and harder bushes keep things taut.

With the boost set at 0.7 bar it produced 170bhp on the Turbo Technics rolling road. Without a slip differential, however, this proved too much for Linda, wrenching the steering wheel from her hands, particularly in the wet. Therefore boost was lowered to 0.4bar, reducing the output to 140bhp until the drive train is uprated. Even in this lesser-powered format Linda still enjoys surprising male drivers who try to take her on, thinking 'just another blonde in a cabriolet'.

Sounds

Linda's Cabrio - side viewOne aspect both Paul and Linda have in common is their taste in interiors, both choosing RS turbo decor, and monster sound systems. Heading the system is a Pioneer KEX-M800 radio/cassette, with it's CD shuttle controller operating a CDX-M50 six disc auto-changer. Further amplification is provided by a GM600 70 watt unit, feeding a set of 17 cm three-way speakers mounted in the standard rear side panels and a pair of tweeters in the front doors. Meanwhile, essential bass is handled by a single 12" subwoofer in the rear parcel shelf, powered by a GM 4000, 400 watt amp.

Paul Renaut

Pail's CabrioSouthend is Paul's favourite venue for cruising, now the ill-fated Thurrock event, to which he was a regular visitor, seems to have died. Anyone visiting the Essex venue may have seen him, or even heard him, hooked up to his mate’s seriously low Fiesta, to produce a single monster sound system.

In fact, it was at Thurrock we first spied this car, gobsmacked by its 'zero' ground clearance. This must be the lowest escort effort to adorn the pages of Fast Car, with less daylight visible than most racers. At the time, however, apart from the chopped, uprated springs to achieve the tarmac hugging stance, and the RS factory spec bodykit, Paul's car had few other mods, except the baby on board graphics and sound system.

Paul's engineTurning the volume down a few notches, Paul highlighted his intentions of installing an RS Turbo unit and promised to call when the rag top was finished. A few months later, when Auto-Tec had completed all the work, sure enough the call came. Basically, Auto-Tec fitted the whole front end from the turbo version, including the transmission and the brakes. Even the intercooler was transferred to its new home. But to keep things really interesting they also conducted a chip change, raising the boost to 15 psi, with a claimed output of 190 bhp. The wastegate actuator was also adjusted, apparently worth a further 15 bhp. Other mods have included a full RS Turbo interior and dog-leg alloy wheels, fitted with a mixture of Fulda 185/55x15 tyres and Dunlop D8s. Meanwhile, the aesthetics got a further bashing with a set of zebra stripes, designed by Andy Smith and applied with the aid of Rick Waterson. With a further boost upgrade also planned, Paul's car is certain to turn heads this summer.

Sounds

Paul's Cabrio - side viewThe original sound system got nicked but Paul has still managed to build a pretty impressive set up with parts supplied by Stirling ICE, Grant Champion conducting the stealth install. Driving the whole lot is a Kenwood head unit connected to three amps. Two Alpine four channel, 70 watt versions drive the 6 x 9" and 6 1/2" speakers, from the same manufacturer, mounted in the doors, along with tweeters, all fixed on MDF board. At the rear of the standard cabriolets speaker housings hide a set of Philips speakers, driven by a Philips 2 x 25 watt amplifier. But the rear sound is dominated by a pair of Alpine sub-woofers in the boot, with 2x300 watts of power.

Article by Fast Car Magazine

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